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Front Page » Top Stories » Miami commissioners push to ban use of scooters

Miami commissioners push to ban use of scooters

Written by on September 28, 2021
Miami commissioners push to ban use of scooters

The scooter program in the City of Miami may be running on empty when it comes to continued support from elected leaders.

Proposed legislation to make the current pilot scooter program permanent is in jeopardy as city Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla is expressing a desire to end the program for good.

He has an ally in Commissioner Manolo Reyes, who has been critical of scooters in the city before.

The legislation drafted to make the scooter program permanent was supposed to be voted on in June but busy commissioners have continued to defer the matter with no clear resolution.

The scooter program came up at the commission’s most recent meeting Sept. 23.

“I continue to voice my objection, and I have from the beginning,” said Mr. Diaz de la Portilla. “I voted for it (the pilot program) as a courtesy to my colleagues.”

He said he wants more safety measures for the scooters to continue, and is still pushing for a formal Request for Proposals, or RFP, that would have restrictions and safety measures built in.

“But I still remain concerned. I’ll make a motion to eliminate the program … I have no problem with that,” said Mr. Diaz de la Portilla.

Commissioner Reyes said, “I’ve been an opponent since day one. And I’ve received a lot of complaints from people who live in Brickell … and I’ve witnessed rather narrow sidewalks, there were a circle of scooters parked on the sidewalk and here comes this lady on a motorized wheelchair. She had to go up on the street and go back.

“These things are cluttering our sidewalks. They are dangerous and I think we should do what other cities have done: outlaw them.

“The only way to police it is, we need special police, and we don’t have that.

“If you stand here on the corner, you can watch minors on them, even racing. It is quite dangerous. We have a huge elder population. I’m afraid one of our senior citizens will get knocked down and be really hurt,” said Mr. Reyes.

Commissioners again put off a vote on the first reading of an ordinance to convert the existing motorized scooter pilot program to a permanent program, providing for increased fees for scooter operators, for enhanced penalties for violations of the program and other restrictions.

In May, Mr. Diaz de la Portilla proposed legislation to interrupt the program, saying he didn’t want Miami to be the guinea pig or see residents risking themselves for an experiment.

Mr. Diaz de la Portilla’s motion failed, and administrators were to ask companies in the scooter program to make sure geo-fencing technologies are in place so that scooters can’t leave the pilot program area, that of Commissioner Ken Russell’s District 2.

The city attorney advised Sept. 23 that the ordinance as drafted would establish the scooter program citywide and make it permanent.

Commissioner Russell said the proposal needs more work.

“Is there no will to continue the program?” Mr. Russell asked fellow commissioners.

“This version (of the proposed ordinance) is not strong enough … but if there’s no world where this body can (have the program) survive then that’s the will of this body … I believe in it,” said Mr. Russell at the latest meeting.

“I made a motion to eliminate the program (in May), but I didn’t get a second,” said Mr. Diaz de la Portilla.

“Yes, months after you voted to keep it,” responded Commissioner Joe Carollo.

“It was a pilot program,” Mr. Diaz de la Portilla said.

He asked the administration to come back with a proposal that would repeal the scooter program, and another to require a Request for Proposals with restrictions and safety measures.

City Manager Art Noriega asked which of those options he wants brought back because they are two different things.

“Both,” said Mr. Diaz de la Portilla.

“I’m not comfortable with something that is an accident waiting to happen,” he said.

Electric scooters got mixed reviews when they were first deployed throughout the city early in 2018. A lack of regulation and direction led to complaints, but some officials cited positive aspects that could help ease growing traffic gridlock. 

The city attorney’s office went after operations of the scooters via cease-and-desist letters, and most scooters were removed from the streets.

Since then, scooters have gone through a series of pilot programs, all in Mr. Russell’s district as other commissioners opposed them in their own areas.

8 Responses to Miami commissioners push to ban use of scooters

  1. NP Reply

    September 29, 2021 at 8:33 am

    Love how these old backwards commissioners are. They see that the sidewalks are crowded with people scooters and bikes, and their first instinct is to ban scooters because they’re seen as unsafe when at the same exact time, Florida is leading the nation in pedestrian deaths due to cars, not scooters.

    The obvious solution is to designate safe protected bike lanes so all users have a means to get around the city. With that you’ll probably solve a lot of the traffic issues downtown as well.

    • BKB Reply

      September 30, 2021 at 7:52 am

      Fully agree with you! Fix the larger problem and you solve more issues – install safe well designed bike lanes everywhere!

  2. Richard R. Reply

    September 29, 2021 at 9:55 am

    Unfortunately, as is the case with all types of vehicles in Miami, people use the scooters irresponsibly. I don’t even see police officers citing drivers of
    automobiles. How likely is it that they’ll cite people on scooters? The streets are already chaotic; we don’t need these scooters adding to the mayhem.

  3. Matthew Corcoran Reply

    September 29, 2021 at 2:30 pm

    The scooter program is an absolute scourge upon the city. The sidewalks have now become very dangerous for pedestrians. Scooters traveling at high speed are using the sidewalks as a highway traveling in opposite directions. The pedestrian is faced with getting run over from both the front and the rear. The sidewalk is considerably more dangerous than crossing the street. As a resident of Brickell I know people who moved out because they were fed up with the chaos and risk of serious injury faced when using the sidewalk. If scooters are allowed to coexist I also plan to move as well.

  4. Alan Reply

    September 29, 2021 at 5:52 pm

    Love the scooter concept idea but two things must be resolved:

    1. Stationing: Cannot have some sidewalks always littered with abandoned scooters. Charge extra the user for not stationing the scooter properly in designated areas or develop designated stations to make it fool proof (examples City Bikes).

    2. Multiple passengers on the same scooters or no respect of traffic rules. There MUST be some level of enforcement on this. The problem of lack of enforcement applies also to bicycles and motorcycles. There are frequent “gangs” on Biscayne Blvd cruising on motorcycles and bikes performing wheelies and other stunts next to regular traffic.

  5. Brickell Resident Reply

    September 30, 2021 at 3:58 am

    These scooters have absolutely destroyed the quality of life and walkability of Brickell to its residents. These things litter every sidewalk making it impossible for anybody with a dog, baby stroller, or wheelchair use the sidewalks safely or at all. If you don’t have to worry about getting hit with the speed/force of a linebacker tackle you have to worry about them hitting your child, pet or seniors unable to jump quickly on a dime out of the way of people flying recklessly down the sidewalks. None, I repeat NONE of the regulations have ever been actually enforced at all on this program and no effort has ever been made to even pretend by the scooters or commission that the rules are followed. Enough is enough, get these damn things off our sidewalks so we can actually walk places in Brickell and Downtown again safely. Do it, end the program. Enough is enough. Every sidewalk has dozens of these things blocking pedestrian traffic left all over on sidewalks they’ve never even been allowed to operate on. They put motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians, pets, children and our seniors at risk and make this city look like a dump.

  6. Save Miami Politics Reply

    September 30, 2021 at 8:23 am

    Manolo Reyes and Alex Diaz de la Portilla aren’t smart enough to figure out scooters.

    Maybe we should elect smarter politicians who aren’t outsmarted by micro-mobility. What weak leaders we have that whenever there is a small problem they call to cancel everything. Never any progress, never new ideas, just “no, no, no!”

    These baby, weak-minded politicians are why Miami has so many problems.

  7. J.J. Reply

    September 30, 2021 at 4:05 pm

    I am a senior citizen living downtown. Although I love to see people having fun in Miami, the joyriding, underage and double-passenger scooter riding makes me quite anxious. I have almost been hit several times.

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